Booking.com CEO on Working With Competition to Become Full-Suite Concierge

November 8, 2018

By Max Godnick

Booking.com is moving beyond its namesake.

The travel giant ($BKNG) is quickly diversifying its portfolio by investing in and acquiring a variety of ride-hailing, courier, and experiential travel companies. Most recently, it bought a $200 million stake in Grab, a Southeast Asian ride-hailing and food-delivery service.

"I think in travel, it's quite unique, because many companies do need each other, because the trip of somebody requires many companies to make that work," Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com, told Cheddar's Alex Heath at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Grab investment comes on the heels of Booking's $500 million stake in the Chinese ride-sharing company Didi Chuxing in July.

Last Spring, parent company Booking Holdings acquired FareHarbor, a start-up providing booking-software for travel experiences, tours, and activities.

"They're actually helping to bring this segment even more connected to our industry," Tans said, adding that the majority of experience services "were not even to be found online" prior to the tech world paying more attention to the space.

Despite reporting strong quarterly earnings that beat revenue expectations and boasted a record-number of bookings, the company's CEO still has her eye on the competition.

In September, the Indian start-up, OYO Hotels, raised $1 billion for a valuation of $5 billion. Unlike Booking's agency-focused approach, OYO works directly with hotel owners, helping them make upgrades and supply their staffs with relevant training.

"I quite admire the company because they basically made the budget segment accessible in India," Tans said.

Given OYO's different approach to the travel industry, Tans said she sees the firm as less of a threat, and more of a potential collaborator.

"That's not something that Booking is actually doing today, so we actually help OYO to fill these rooms which, then, is a perfect partnership," she said.

For full interview click here.